Happy St. Patrick’s Day. If you think this day is about drinking green beer and eating corned beef and cabbage, you may have missed a few details. The story begins when sixteen-year-old Patrick was captured from his father’s farm in Britain and taken as a slave to Ireland.
Patrick spent six years in that nation working as a shepherd and suffering tremendous hardship and near starvation. But, good news: During those lonely years, he turned to the faith of his childhood and became reconciled to God.
One night, Patrick dreamed that he should get up and run to the coast because a ship was waiting there to take him home to Brittain. So, he escaped. For the average person, that would have been the end of the story. Big reunion. Happy family. Long-lost son goes on to inherit the family estate and lives happily ever after.
But then Patrick had another dream. He dreamed about children in Ireland crying out for salvation. So, he got on another boat and returned to the place of his captivity. He wasn’t the first or only missionary in Ireland, but he made a big impact. His work also helped establish literacy in that nation. Through his efforts, many people came to know God, and Ireland started sending missionaries all across Europe.
So, go ahead and wear green in honor of the Emerald Isle on the 17th. Eat some Irish food. It is good to celebrate a life that was lost and then found. Even better, follow Patrick as he followed Christ. You may not win a nation by giving your life to God, but you might influence your neighbor.
(Just FYI: This post was previously published on my blog. Before that, it was published in our church bulletin.)